What happens when you leave corporate to set up your own business?

Career developmentLeaving the perceived safety of the corporate world to start your own business can seem exciting and a great adventure, or it could be scary and risky, depending on your state of mind. Earlier this year I conducted research amongst 300 women business owners.

Even though they said they love being self-employed, it isn’t always easy. The transition from employment can be challenging, with revenue and cash flow often erratic at the beginning. And in many cases they are unprepared for the sheer volume and variety of work encountered in running their own business. They may be very skilled in their area of business but it is the myriad of other demands on their time that they find challenging. Whether it is the legal approach, finances, IT or even managing their own diary, these are things that the women have traditionally relied on the large corporate framework to provide, and in many cases even taken for granted. There is no one at the end of their IT help line to fix the printer!

Transitioning from corporate to one’s own business can also be challenging at the level of identity. After many years of having a certain title, reliable salary, working for an esteemed company and perhaps having many staff, when this disappears it can be a shock. As suddenly, those external cues we used to judge our success and identified with are gone. The women then need to update their identity based on their values and refresh their criteria of success. In my experience, when women haven’t done this, they may view their entrepreneurial venture as a failure because they are still judging it on their old success criteria.

Even with all of the factors considered, most of the women I spoke to would not go back to corporate, even if they were paid more money. Once they have tasted the freedom, ignited their passion to make a difference and work on their terms, there is no going back to the toxic culture.

If you wish to download a copy of the Corporate Crossovers Research Summary, please click here

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